Basic research (Justinova et al. 2013, Mahgoub et al. 2013, Katsidoni et al. 2013) and one case report (Crippa et al. 2013) suggest a therapeutic potential of CBD in dependency and withdrawal.
Basic research of two groups of researchers in the United Arab Emirates and the USA point to a possible mechanism, by which CBD has potential as a treatment for cannabis dependence. Scientists of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore, USA, demonstrated that kynurenic acid, which inhibits the alpha-7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (alpha7-nACh receptor), reduced the rewarding effects of THC in rats and monkeys, who were dependent on THC (Justinova et al. 2013). Kynurenic acid is a product of the normal metabolism of the amino acid L-tryptophan. Researchers wrote that the modulation of kynurenic acid “offers a pharmacological strategy for achieving abstinence from marijuana and preventing relapse.”
A group from the College of Medicine and Health Sciences of the University of Abu Dhabi in AL Ain, United Arab Emirates, showed that CBD inhibits acetylcholine-induced currents at the alpha-7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (Mahgoub et al. 2013). They concluded that their results “indicate that CBD inhibits the function of the alpha7-nACh receptor.” Other mechanisms may be involved in these effects of CBD.
In a study with rats, CBD inhibited the reward-facilitating effect of morphine (Katsidoni et al. 2013). These effects were mediated by activation of 5-HT1A receptors in a certain brain region (dorsal raphe). Scientists concluded that “cannabidiol may be clinically useful in attenuating the rewarding effects of opioids.”
In a study at the Ribeirão Preto Medical School of the University of São Paulo, Brazil, a 19-year-old woman with withdrawal symptoms after cessation of cannabis use profited from a treatment with CBD (Crippa et al. 2013). Daily symptom assessments demonstrated the absence of significant withdrawal, anxiety and other symptoms during the treatment. Authors concluded that “CBD can be effective for the treatment of cannabis withdrawal syndrome.”